'Elite troops' protecting Baghdad airport after Al Jazeera investigative report | News

Iraqi authorities have deployed members of the Special Forces Rapid Intervention Team directly linked to Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani to reinforce the perimeter of Baghdad International Airport and strategic areas surrounding it.

The move follows an investigative report prepared by the Transnational Corruption and Crime Reporting Project (OCRB) on December 21, which revealed that the company was contracted to protect airport security She has no previous experienceMany employees claim they have not been paid for months.

OCRB reporters concluded in their investigation that Business Intel, a Canadian company appointed to oversee airport security in September 2022, provided Iraqi officials with a misleading view of its professional qualifications. Some current and former employees of the company claim that the situation puts Iraq's main airport, which handles 2 million passengers a year, at risk.

The deployment of elite Iraqi troops coincides with escalating attacks by U.S. troops in Iraq in recent months and a deterioration in security in the wider region since war broke out between Hamas and Israel last October.

Witnesses notified OCRB of the deployment of rapid response team members near the airport the day after the Dec. 21 findings, which were officially confirmed Wednesday.

Brigadier General Abdul Amir Hamdani, director of the media and relations department of the rapid response unit Elite Forces, told OCRB: “Following the prime minister's orders, we deployed members of the special forces to secure the perimeter of Baghdad International Airport with armed armed forces. directives from the Commander-in-Chief of the Forces and the Minister of Interior to repel any armed threats and maintain the stability of air traffic.”

After the findings were announced, Business Intel owner Hafeez Okki initially declined to comment on the allegations in the investigation. But he later contacted OCRB to say his company won the contract after a “competitive bidding process” and that “all legal contract requirements were met.” He said that “Business Intel has increased wages and improved employee benefits” and “some employees have been fired simply for serious misconduct.” He stressed that there had been no security breaches at the airport since the appointment of Business Intel.

Iraq's Civil Aviation Authority and the Iraqi Prime Minister's Office did not respond to requests for comment on information contained in the investigation text.

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